On Sunday, September 20, the Guyana Equality Forum (GEF) and partners hosted “Sunday Fun Day: Peace Day Novelty Sports and Health Fair” at the Eve Leary Sports Ground, on the eve of the International Day of Peace, celebrated globally on September 21.
The GEF has recognized the importance of partnering with other key stakeholders as a means of collectively promoting the rights of marginalized groups in Guyana. “Sunday Fun Day: Peace Day Novelty Sports and Health Fair” capitalized on a HIV prevention activity under SASOD’s sexual health project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – Advancing Partners and Communities (APC) project. Deliberately held on September 20, 2015, the eve of the International Day for Peace (IDP) - the United Nations observance dedicated to strengthening the ideas of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples - the event was held to promote peace, human rights, general health and well-being for all Guyanese.. This year’s IDP theme is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All” which fits squarely with the GEF's mandate of human rights and equality for all Guyanese. The Sunday Fun Day also aimed to promote positive health and well-being, foster youth participation and civic engagement and uphold human rights and equality for all Guyanese.
(l - r) Managing Director of SASOD, Joel Simpson, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Khadija Musa; Minister within the Ministry of Education, Department of Youth, Culture and Sport, Nicolette Henry and USAID - Advancing Partners and Communities
The official opening of the “Sunday Fun Day: Peace Day Novelty Sports and Health Fair” featured remarks from Minister within the Ministry of Education, Nicolette Henry, M.P; United Nations Resident Coordinator, Khadija Musa, and the USAID – APC Project’s Chief-of-Party, Folami Harris. Minister Henry in her remarks to the audience congratulated the GEF for working with civic groups to achieve equal rights and justice for all Guyanese. She noted that the GEF and SASOD has done a lot of work to address discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons and other vulnerable groups by building the capacity of civil society to address human rights violations and protect vulnerable persons from discrimination. Minister Henry highlighted that the Sunday Fun Day’s three main objectives but focused her remarks on youth civic engagement. She stated that, ”activities and programmes are critical for empowering young people to develop their skills and talents; participate in political, economic and social conversations; and become agents of positive change in their communities -These activities are important because they teach life and leadership skills, which empower youth, help them become self-reliant adults, and encourage them to contribute to society.”
|Minister Henry delivering the opening remarks|
Participating in the day’s activities were the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA), Guyana National Youth Council (GYNC), Youth Media Guyana (YMG), Georgetown American University (GAU) and the United States Peace Corps. The novelty sports component was geared towards promoting exercise and fitness as an important contributor of good physical health in fun and competitive ways. The games included Dance Past, Bun-Eating Competition, Tug-A- War, Musical Plates & Chairs, Three-Legged Race, Relay Obstacle Course, Lime & Spoon, Late for Group, Knees & Balloon Race, Wheelbarrow Race, United We Are, 100 M Dash, 400 M Race, 4 by 100 Relay and Water Blaster. After an exciting and competitive day, GRPA was adjudged the overall winner, with GNYC winning second place and Peace Corps copping third position. Presenting the medals, trophies and tokens of appreciation to the participants were Ministry of Education’s Director of Sport, Christopher Jones and the U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Officer, Robert Adelson.
|Overall Winner of the GEF's Sunday Fun Day, the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA)|
Offering closing remarks at the end of the event were Minister of Social Cohesion, Amna Ally, M.P. and Peace Corps Country Director Linda Arbogast. Minister Ally, in delivering her remarks, stated that, “our Government intends to undertake the ongoing process of developing a community of shared values, shared challenges and equal opportunity within Guyana, based on a sense of trust, hope and reciprocity among Guyanese.” She envisioned the achievement of a nation where resident Guyanese would like to remain and those in the diaspora would return to live in peace, unity and prosperity in a unified nationalistic, progressive society. She concluded by calling on all Guyanese to intensify their efforts to ensure that we create a society where the peace, human rights and equality is observed not only at special events and forums such as these but every day as we go about our daily lives. She highlighted that this is the only way we can fully and effectively ensure and guarantee continuity of this process.
|Minister of Social Cohesion, Amna Ally delivering the closing remarks.|
In her remarks, Ms. Arbogast, noted that, “the objectives for the fun day are also important to creating a Guyana that respects and celebrates the amazing diversity of this country-and diversity in all the many facets of the word.” She lauded the organisers of the event and emphasized that “we all deserve human rights and equality and today’s event brings home the point that all Guyanese deserve the best health care available to them, employment, provision of stigma-free, high-quality medical services and fair treatment of all persons, especially groups who face barriers to accessing services, such as youth and LGBT people, in Guyana.”
The GEF Sunday Fun Day and Health Fair was supported by the USAID -APC)Project in Guyana through a fixed contract with SASOD. Prizes and tokens for the novelty sports were donated by Papercraft Ltd., Trophy Stall and the Guyana Defence Force. Free health services, which included Voluntary Counselling and Testing for HIV (VCT), Body Mass Index (BMI), Blood-Pressure and Blood Glucose Testing, were provided by SASOD, Peace Corps and GAU.
The GEF is an independent, apolitical network of civil groups working cohesively to achieve equal rights and justice for all Guyanese. The forum seeks to address the challenges within the legal framework with respect to discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons and other vulnerable groups by building the capacity of civil society to address human rights violations and protect vulnerable persons from discrimination. The GEF was founded by the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) in 2011. SASOD continues to serve as the GEF’s secretariat while Red Thread is the current chair of the GEF.